I have been planning to make a By Hand London Flora ever since it was launched. I have had the Anna and Elisalex in my stash too, but the Flora got bumped to the top of the list as we had a few hot, hot weeks in London and it screamed summer dress to me.
The pattern provides two bodice variations and two skirt variations. For this mock up I went for the tabard bodice. With a large bust I get very cleavage conscious so avoided the v-neck and then went for the mullet hem just because it was summery and seemed fitting.
This was going to be my toile of the pattern and as such I decided to make it out of this pinky-red chambray I had in my stash. It took me a while to remember where I got this fabric, but turns out it was a bed sheet…standard toile practice.
The By Hand London patterns come in a gorgeous pastel envelopes with pattern diagrams on the front that actually help you imagine what your garment might look like in real life. As mentioned before I think the bigger more established pattern brands can sometime be so off the mark with the pattern picture or pattern photos, you could never in a million years imagine wanting to wear there garments.
The pattern itself is printed on tissue paper with an accompanying instruction booklet.
The booklet is really clear and the diagrams are very helpful in construction.
As some of my construction did happen during the hot spell, it is only natural that I would want to accompany one of my favourite pastimes, with a refreshing summertime drink. I can say that the instruction booklet remained clear and helpful even after a I had a light soaking in Gin
Being of the ‘can’t be arsed with faff’ crowd, I just cut my size variation from the tissue and traced off only the skirt variations. I am sure this will come and bite me in the bum at some point and I’ll have to send the lovely By Hand London girls some more cash for another copy of the pattern.
From my measurements I was pretty close to the size 12 as it was out of the packet and as a first attempt at this dress I wanted to make it up and see how it fitted before I stared making changes…or as others call it…make a toile.
The bodice came together really easily and used a similar technique to attach the lining and turn out as the little dress I made here, so no surprises there.
The darts were easy to mark and not over fiddly, so it was easy enough check against my body for fit at an early stage. I was well behaved and did all of the techniques that on a lazier day I might have missed, such a stay stitching round the arm hole and clipping the curved seams.
The skirt section was really easy to make and I really liked the use of both box pleats and knife pleats, I can see this skirt being used in a number of pattern hacks.
I did hang the skirt the settle for a few days and this is really worth doing when you’re making circle skirts, I’m sure this will be echoed on a number of other blogs too.
The next step was the zip. I was fairly happy to put in the invisible zip as I had already tackled this on my Bum Denial skirt and most certainly had an invisible zipper foot now. However in a moment of deju vu, I did cause myself a setback by loosing the zip I had originally bought for the dress. This meant I did a last minute dash in my lunch break to John Lewis. The only 22 inch zip they had available was a littler further in colour from my fabric than I would have wanted, but this was a toile and I wasn’t going to let this sucker go unfinished any longer.
With the bodice variation I chose, you are supposed to hand stitch the lining in place. I did hand stitch down next to the zip, my invisible whip stitching exercising varying states of invisibility, but again, I’m not going to sweat to too much as it’s on the inside and still does the job (plus I was jet-lagged AND had more gin).
By the time I got to attaching the lining at the waistband I had lost patience with hand stitching, so instead a did a very cheeky turn under of the lining and stitched on my machine, catching it under- I hid this line of stitching by following the waistband seam and for the most part it has blended in.
The final stage was hemming the dress-I really liked the By Hand method for hemming the circle skirt, and it’s again something that I know is favoured by a number sewists. The combination of modern patterns, gorgeoous packaging AND these extra tips is what makes By Hand patterns such a pleasure to work with.
The instructions suggest you sew a row of stitches a distance from the edge and then use this a guide to turn up your hem to. I chose to top stitch my hem once turned up as this was a toile, but on a fancier dress I might give in and do some (mostly) invisible hand stitching. I do have an apparently invisible stitch setting on my machine, but haven’t played with it yet.
And here’s my Flora…
As you can see by the time I finished my Flora, I was just in time for a very rainy bank holiday monday (hence my unimpressed face in photo one) and had run out of sunshine filled days. I will definitely be making this dress again, I think for the colder months I will stick to the same bodice shape, but use the straight circle skirt instead of the mullet hem.
A few changes I will make next time-
Neckline– being busty the high neckline creates a bit of a uni-boob effect, I might lengthen the straps and lower the front neckline slightly.
Sizing- as I said I am petty happy with the sizing, I avoided doing a fuller bust adjustment and think I can get away without doing it. Next time,Just to give me a little more ease across the chest, I might sew skinner seams for just a little more room.
Waistline– the waist line is ever so slightly above my natural waistline. So slight it’s only from wearing it I know, so I might add a tiny smidgen to the to the bottom of the bodice next time.
Zip- My effort is pretty darn neat, apart from a bit of a bungle at the bottom. I’m never quite sure what to do at the bottom of invisible zips, I’m going to watch some more web tutorials on this now…
Now everyone please pray for the summer to return for a little longer so I can go and frolic in my pink chambray Flora.